Terror attack foiled; 2 IS suspects nabbed
Ghio Ong (Associated Press) - April 7, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Authorities foiled a possible terror attack following the arrest of a Kuwaiti man and his Syrian wife, both alleged members of the Islamic State (IS).

Kuwaiti Husayn al-Dhafiri and Syrian Rahaf Zina had been living and working in Manila since January. They were arrested on March 25 at a condominium unit in Taguig City, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told a press conference yesterday.

“They arrived in the country on Jan. 28” from Qatar, Aguirre said, adding the couple used their real names in their passports issued in Kuwait.

Aguirre cited military intelligence reports pointing to al-Dhafiri as allegedly involved in explosives manufacturing and planning a terror attack against his home country Kuwait.

Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente added al-Dhafiri is a ranking IS operative in Syria and is also known as Warsh al-Kuwaiti and Abu Muslim al-Kuwaiti.

Morente said Zina is the widow of Abu Jandal Al-Kuwaiti, a high ranking IS commander who was killed during an airstrike in December last year.

Morente said a working visa allowed al-Dhafiri’s entry to the country, which was approved by a recruitment agency Q8 Solutions.

He said the couple flew to Davao for four days and to Cebu for three days before flying back to Manila.

Aguirre added al-Dhafiri also entered the country as a tourist in 2016.

Aguirre though admitted the couple are not directly linked to any local terror group in the country, saying they are still verifying their activities during their stay.

“We are speculating why they are in the Philippines,” Aguirre said.

He said they had to delay the announcement of the capture of the couple.

“We kept this under wraps for about a week… it was a signal for the others to continue their terroristic activities,” Aguirre said.

Morente said the couple would be processed for deportation within the month.

Immigration associate commissioner Jake Ligas added they would work on the cancellation of their passports.

Al-Dhafiri would be deported to Kuwait where he is suspected of bomb plots. Zina would be deported to Qatar, from where she last came.

“Both of them will be properly received by the security forces of those countries,” he said.

The Kuwaiti embassy in Manila could not be contacted for comment.

In the meantime, they have been detained at the National Bureau of Investigation’s facility in Manila since March 26, a day after their arrest.   – With Rey Galupo



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